Un -Fettered

I consider the walls I live within, the space I inhabit.

We patched and painted last year, a neutral creamy beige with the slightest hint of green. I love green. The swatch was called ‘Garden Mist.’ Made me happy.

Aren’t I blessed to be made happy by a paint swatch from Home Hardware here in our small town.

We replaced our worn sectional with a new leather sofa and love seat from Leons on the pay in two years plan. They’re paid off. I love kicking back those recliners, especially on a cold night when the wood stove is stoked and the room’s filled with friends.

How did I warrant this? Did I do something to deserve it or did the chips just fall this way?

Am I good, like Maria Von Trapp in the Sound of Music. She breathlessly sings in the garden as Georg kisses her, “I must have done something good….”.

No. Not good. My heart, God knows is prone to resentfulness, rebellion and self seeking. Not good.

I was blessed with this, all this life. Not perfect, even some injuries along the way. But I’m not just surviving. I live in a different mode than those awaiting safety or one meal or shelter from the elements.

Yet I search for something. I ache for a wider space, a borderless place with high hills and views to the east where the sun slips up the earth, painting another morning orange-bright.

Why should I have that?

Why should I have anything at all when others are just wondering if that same birthing day will bring any food or death.

The earth is hellish. Fear smashing at our doors and I want to move. But where? Is there a place where soulish and real world worries aren’t present? Maybe the move isn’t to wider fields but to a different heart space. A space of lie me down yieldedness to the One who actually knows what the day will bring. It could be death or a meal or a field or even paint, but God forbid those things come because I clamoured for them. Let each gift be a mercy, a grace to cup gratefully, not a grasping.

I’ve heard that Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t start with the place it finished. It began with greed and selfishness. People wanting more and having much and thinking it was their right. And forgetting the poor. The ones who matter specially to God. The ones that God said Pay Attention to, because if you have much it’s not to build your bigger barn, it’s actually to share that much with the one who has little and it all evens out in the end. Not Communism, but Community. God’s way. But they didn’t. They turned inward and hoarded and got bored and tried new things and bought more and titillated themselves and found new ways to fill their cups of debauchery. And eventually God said okay. And turned them over to it.

I’m afraid we’re here, again. Even those of us who call ourselves Believers. Do we even know what we would need to repent of when we quote those 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 verses? I don’t but I’m getting a feeling as I look around. The attachments to my present life are pretty strong.

But there’s this whisper of freedom as I imagine not being owned by what I own.

What ties you to this earth? What distracts you from a fundamental connection with your Creator, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us? From the just living connected, trusting and obedient?

Are you willing to loosen your grip? To count the cost and take the hand held out to you?

I want to try. I imagine walking away and knowing this unfettered lightness.

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” Philippians 3:8 NKJV (biblegateway.com)

Cancelled

“Maybe you should have been more careful about what you said,” I looked at Him sitting across from me. He was so self assured.

He looked back and smiled, “I Am careful. I Am true to Myself. I speak because I Love.”

“But they don’t understand who you are. They think you are an intolerant, old wizard sitting on your distant throne, hating on everyone who isn’t perfect according to Your standards. They think YOU cancel people.”

“I know.” This time there wasn’t a smile and His eyes darkened, sorrowing. “They don’t understand who I Am and how I love them. They can’t comprehend that this life they live is fleeting. They would rather tear up the framework I’ve given them, reject the rescue mission I embarked on to bring them home and risk losing everything in the forever. They feast on cheap thrills rather than hold off for the rich and lavish main course I’ve prepared for those who love Me.”

“But, they feel it’s their right. Right? To have what they want now?” He nodded.

“Yes. They’re being conditioned to grasp whatever titillating idea is set before them. Anything that throws off restraint and claims to be a right must be had. Especially if it appears to right a historical wrong. But at what cost? Wrong upon wrong doesn’t correct the atrocities that have been committed in my Name. Understanding my motives, my character will bring truth to history. And many of the deeds done in my Name had nothing to do with Me.” He touched my hand, so gentle and strong. Captivated I watched His brow furrow with grief, history clouding His grey eyes momentarily. Then his olive skin crinkled into a smile creasing his careworn face. I reached forward and touched his cheek, my eyes on His. His skin was warm. His sorrow became my own.

“I’m sorry,” my voice tremulous. “We’re fickle. We don’t really know You at all, so we act on what we see, what we’re told. The story is always changing so we believe it and then we’re outraged at what we’re told. And then we have to act.”

He leaned forward. “What you don’t realize is that the narrative isn’t changing so quickly. It’s an old tale, told from the beginning. Sometimes it’s suppressed and truth comes to the forefront. Other times it pushes to the surface, but it’s old and insidious. It’s experienced and effective.” He flung his arm in the air. “Those who wield it wave it like a found wand over the world, gradually changing thought to suit the old agenda, without knowledge or understanding of what’s actually taking place. Simply, it’s a war. And its focus is Me. Am I good? And if so, how can I allow difficult things to happen? Why should I prevent humans from having what they want?”

“Right. So they cancel You.”

“That’s okay. I don’t actually need their approval. I Am who I Am. But they need Me. That’s why those of You who know Me must tell the Truth about who I Am.” He held me in His eyes, a flame flickering in the depths igniting a fire in me as I gazed back at Him.

“What will be cancelled one day,” He looked at me with such severity that I trembled inside, “is the works and lies of the dark lord. The one who has deceived, convinced many of deceptions about me and my plans for humanity. This one will be cancelled. All his plans, his being. He will be cancelled indeed.” That flame burned in His eyes again, his face grim. I was afraid. And then He looked back to me and His face softened.

“Come. Let’s tell them the good news.” He reached for my hand and we walked together into the gathering dark.

~

[The problem with cancelling God, or anyone for that matter is the lack of attention to character. It’s a blind judging based on a knee jerk reaction to something that’s been said. Something that pushes a hot button. Rather than enter into rational dialogue, to reason together, to challenge thoughtfully and intelligently, the cancel button is pushed and the dialogue is over. The person and their unwelcome thoughts are out and society can go back to the comfortable, offended status, cancel button reset to trigger for the next person who trespasses on their ideology. Once hair trigger thinking becomes an ideology we’ve descended to mob mentality and the victims are those who espouse thoughts different from the mob. And the waves of this madness change from idea to idea in our ever changing culture. Perhaps cancel culture will cancel itself some day for being intolerant.]

Revive Us

It’s everywhere.

The clarion cry to FREEDOM.

Convoys. Cardboard lawn signs in my subdivision. Canadian flags waving the red and white on trucks, buildings and hoisted high in the hands of the patriotic.

“Revive us LORD we plead. We need you!” we pray and shout.

I agree.

And I’m worried.

On a few levels.

I agree. Our leadership is compromised. I can’t imagine anyone not seeing this.

Revival coming because we succeed at convincing parliament of the corruption and bringing in a newly elected party and PM? Not so sure.

What are we crying out for, really?

We’ve been shuttered and bullied into compliance. Coerced into receiving questionable medical procedures and fear mongered into separating ourselves from those who need care and community. That’s all of us at varying levels.

The motivation behind all this has become clearly suspect, not well intentioned and the populace of the world is rising up. I’m so proud to call myself a Canadian in this time. Who woulda thought, eh, that our passive nation would raise such a noise around the globe and wake the people up!

However. I’m still concerned that we think that if this battle is won to our satisfaction, that will somehow equate with revival.

I’m concerned that my greatest concerns are about losing my comfort, the resources I own, the job I’m grateful for, the lifestyle I enjoy.

Revival does not mean I keep all that.

In fact it may mean the complete opposite. I hear that the church in China is thriving, and not because of great governance and freedoms.

This comes when we realize who we are and Who we serve and the rest of our attachments fall away.

God help us to see!

I’ve heard the ‘prophetic words’ of some (back in 2020) telling us that this will end in a short time on a given date. That God will set us free. It’s honestly a quick buzz and then it doesn’t happen and you go back to hoping something will bring this to an end.

This https://youtu.be/4O6x9JuXlnA however is about the best exhortation I’ve heard recently. It covers a bit about the convoy at the start then moves into the meat. It’s feisty but good.

And then there’s this:

13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (NIV biblegateway.com)

And this…

Isaiah 58:1-12 (Amplified Version biblegateway.com)

“Cry aloud, do not hold back;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet,
And declare to My people their transgression
And to the house of Jacob their sins.

“Yet they seek Me day by day and delight [superficially] to know My ways,
As [if they were in reality] a nation that has done righteousness
And has not abandoned (turned away from) the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me righteous judgments,
They delight in the nearness of God.

‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You do not see it?
Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’
Hear this [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins] you find something you desire [to do],
And you force your hired servants to work [instead of stopping all work, as the law teaches].

“The facts are that you fast only for strife and brawling and to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You do not fast as you do today to make your voice heard on high.

“Is a fast such as this what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself [with sorrow in his soul]?
Is it only to bow down his head like a reed
And to make sackcloth and ashes as a bed [pretending to have a repentant heart]?
Do you call this a fast and a day pleasing to the Lord?

“[Rather] is this not the fast which I choose,
To undo the bonds of wickedness,
To tear to pieces the ropes of the yoke,
To let the oppressed go free
And break apart every [enslaving] yoke?

“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not to hide yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood?


“Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your healing (restoration, new life) will quickly spring forth;
Your righteousness will go before you [leading you to peace and prosperity],
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry for help, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away from your midst the yoke [of oppression],
The finger pointed in scorn [toward the oppressed or the godly], and [every form of] wicked (sinful, unjust) speech,
10 
And if you offer yourself to [assist] the hungry
And satisfy the [a]need of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.

11 
“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your soul in scorched and dry places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail
.
12 
“And your people will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up and restore the age-old foundations [of buildings that have been laid waste];
You will be called Repairer of the Breach,
Restorer of Streets [b]with Dwellings.

And if you want to go further, look up verses 13-14.

Lots to consider as we hope things will return to a sense of normalcy. I’ve never been in favour of the words “new normal.” However based on the verses above, perhaps that’s what we need to be pressing towards.

~In Christ~

Useless

I reposted something the other day. I liked what it said, and meant, for me. But I neglected to think about what it could say to others.

Some vibrant conversation followed in the comments. I’m happy to say it was covered in grace. However the thoughts followed me around for a day and the next and I wondered deeply about why I posted it; what was the why for me behind the word that caused others grief.

Here it is.

I battle fear.

Daily.

I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. It’s not something I lay down into, though it does threaten to smother me with it’s scratchy thinking.

I fight and even more so these days. Mental health crises are a real and present fallout of the time we’re living in. Too many threatening programs up and running in the mind, clouding our judgement and general contentment. Right?

Layer that on top of the usual struggles, and safety becomes a nebulous thing.

Don’t we all want to be safe? I do. It’s an elusive quality at the best of times.

Yet.

I have to, and want to chose to say no to the fear. I can’t live under it. When I do it renders me ineffective at most things. My creativity dwindles, my relationships suffer, I stop working out and even dinner isn’t as tasty as it could be were I on my game.

So I repost this controversial item because it speaks to me. It challenges me to lurch out from under the pressing fear, live wide, because, for me, living safe can mean I’m yielding to what my anxiety shouts. So I cast it off and get out for hikes (even into the Rocky Mountains of Washington USA with a dear, adventuring friend and young son), write words on a page, cook something good and engage in some great conversation and gather (wisely) with believers to spend some time in God’s presence together. It’s not a heedless casting off of restraint and sanity in these crazy times but a living well as I can, holding the hand of the God who tells me not to be afraid.

Useless is a harmful word though.

The post said that choosing safety renders a person useless. I didn’t mean for this to be smeared on anyone but I can see how it could hurt.

I… feel useless when anxiety curbs me into a corner. So I choose to shake off the driving voices urging us to cower. And it’s not just during a pandemic. Everything is about safety these days. When I was a baby my ride in a car was a car bed in the backseat, untethered bed and untethered me. Dangerous? Yes!

But now our babies, our children, our teens, ourselves are so smothered with regulations and safety it’s almost impossible to breathe.

Don’t let the children climb trees or kick a ball at school. They might get hurt.

Golly! Yes they might. And they might live and breathe and grow and fall and get back up again and learn to deal with adversity in the process. And yes, there will be the ones that don’t get up again. I’m so sorry, with all of my heart!

But I can’t live trying to mitigate the risk of every. single. circumstance.

THIS causes anxiety. For heavens sake and for ours we must engage in critical, wide open thinking and cast off… yes cast off…. the fears that attempt to strangle us into this life of living inside, stuck in front of screens, living virtual adventures while our muscles and brains atrophy.

I must.

There is no judgement here towards anyone. We’re all trying to work it out the best way we know how. May God bless you and lead you as you sort through it all too.

Thank you for entertaining my attempt to clear up this muddle.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2Timothy 1:7.

I love C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe where, when Lucy asked if the Lion was safe she received this reply: “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Dare I Crack the Door?

I feel a bit unhinged, alone in the kitchen tonight. Young folks all out on this last day of a broken year and Frank upstairs resting, with a cold, not covid.

It’s surreal and I wonder if when I open the front door tomorrow morning, the world as I know it will still be there. Or perhaps it left a while ago.

Tonight it feels cold. A chill wanders the streets, seeping through the soul of our land, reaching its icy fingers into our unsure hearts.

There is this isolation. This gripping fear grasping at our throats. What’s to come as we bid adieu to the old and dare to crack the door of tomorrow open? No one knows. We’re living in times not seen by most any of us alive now.

Yet…

As I pause, there’s this Flame. This palpable Love. This understanding that I’m seen and known. And held. It banks a fire of courage and wraps me in a surety that whatever comes… I’m not alone.

There’s this Joy!

This strength.

This brightness that throws back the dark and melts the coldest ice.

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (2Thessalonians 3:16)

Soft Night

I’ve never felt air so soft

The wind high and playful at 1am, and so warm

Elaine’s maple is writhing, waving it’s ample arms in great gross gestures

Lifting it’s skirts in a whirling, gyrating dance

More a comedian, than a monster

More a romance than a threat

I want to stay out here in my long nightie

Pitch a tent and sleep under the black, wind sky

Listen to the constant watery song of leaves rustling, rustling

I could but I know soon that canopy will break open

An ocean up there about to crash on my shore

But wouldn’t I want to be caught in the unleashing?

I bet it’ll be warmest rain

Just like the kiss of this air

I, The Well You Tend

Today, though I asked You to fill me

so I could pour you out to others,

You became glue, compound, to stop up the holes in me,

so You could pour in and keep me full.

“It’s not from your continued emptiness

that I flow,” You said.

“but from your top, your fulness that I spill

over.

There is no glory in you leaking,

your holes running you dry,

but only in my fulness making you whole.

Then I fill you brimful and your cup runs over.

There is beauty and life,” You said, with your

unexpected, compassionate smile.

Sometimes it seems like everything’s trickling out.

An emptying with no refilling.

News and more news of the glorious bad.

When you’re inundated with negativity at every turn

and told to endure it on your own it can feel bleak.

It can make you feel like not spring cleaning, or working out,

or painting that wall that’s crying out for a makeover.

It can make you feel like tunnelling into covers, or Netflix or even Pureflix

or whatever you find yourself getting lost in these days.

If you’re younger and it’s a game, not on a board but in a system,

a game that makes you feel powerful, like a conquerer, an adventurer,

I understand.

Anything is better than this shuttered life. Right?

Or is it?

How do we shake off the detritus of this clamoring time and live wide open?

How do we find hope when we’re being denied the very essence of what

humanity is?

A community.

Humans need each other.

There is a reason we were told to greet each other with a holy kiss,

a purpose in the two arms hanging down at our sides.

We were made to embrace, to look in each other’s eyes, to listen to each

others voices, to carry each other’s burdens. To worship together.

These things make us well.

So how do we find wellness in the midst of isolation?

It seems that the order itself makes us yearn even more for community.

And isn’t this good?

Maybe we’re being awoken in some ways to things we had taken for granted.

Our communities of faith. Our friends and families.

How important they are!

How can we drink up the opportunities in front of us

and turn this darkness into a portal for light to shine through?

How can we connect when we meet people on the sidewalk,

at the store, anywhere.

Can we hold people in our eyes? That can be uncomfortable.

These are the windows of our soul after all. But what if

we share our souls, letting the light in us see them, and them us.

What if we create beautiful things in defiance of the darkness.

What if we splatter beauty and light across this abysmal time?

The Spirit of God hovered over the waters

and saw darkness over the face of the deep … and began to create!

Shall we co-create with God and bring every imaginable gift

He has given to bear during this time? People already are.

Have you seen this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXFhkmyVRgM

and this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La9Zy917JcQ.

Let’s add more.

What brings you joy?

How do you demonstrate joy?

What gifts are tucked down inside you, waiting to be revealed,

to be a blessing?

Do you bake or paint, sing or pray, garden or help others

or share your wealth?

How can these gifts be employed to poke a bright spot through this gloom.

I think we must, in defiance of depression, do the beautiful things,

do the difficult things.

We must exercise our hopefulness that we have this day.

This day to decorate, this day to be strong.

Turn off the news. Put the phone away.

Step outside, even in the rain.

Look up and let your light shine.

Ode To Mary Oliver

Sometimes just a bite of chocolate

or whatever sweetest thing you desire.

Even making love has its rhythm and finish and rest.

I read this poem, then another.

Feel the sweet spark of thought,

the agony of understanding,

the pleasure of words weaving a thought, a picture.

I read another and find I simply can’t.

I’m satiated and will rest,

enjoying the morsel I’ve already bitten into,

the love I’ve already been filled with.

To have more would be greedy.

To have more would diminish the flavor

of what I’m still digesting.